As the final days leading up to Christmas wind down, now is a good time for you to take a few hours and begin to think about the goals you want to achieve in the coming year. I know, I know. New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner but why do so many make and then fail to keep them? Perhaps it’s because people fail to plan what it is they want to achieve. If you fall into that category, then what follows is a simple plan that can help you achieve more in the coming year.
1. Make time to sit down and brainstorm your goals
The first step is the hardest. Sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea with a notebook and pencil is critical (I recommend pencil since you might be erasing a bit as you go). Our goals tend to be focused in only a few areas like career, personal, relational, and financial (though financial could be integrated into personal and/or career). It’s important as you begin to not limit yourself as to what you want to achieve and what is most important to you. If you are not passionate about the goals you set, you will NEVER achieve them.
For this step, I would recommend that you write everything down that comes to you and then, step back for a minute or two and edit your writing to focus on a few areas. Once you’ve done this, you can move on to the next step.
2. Are these goals realistic?
You can make goals challenging but are they realistic? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to aquire an advanced college degree (I do!). Writing that down as a goal is good but saying the goal is to get it done in a year is probably not realistic. As you brainstorm your goals as mentioned in step one, begin to narrow the focus of each one and break it down into achievable pieces. This does a couple of things. First, it helps you outline the steps needed to achieve the goal and secondly, it gives you markers to celebrate as you journey down the path to ultimately seeing the goal achieved. If you want to lose 50 pounds next year, why not start with losing 10 pounds by the spring? If you achieve this first, it will give you a reason to celebrate and the motivation to continue towards better results.
3. Craft your “plan of attack”
I’ve already mentioned narrowing your focus but here’s how to take this step a little further. As you create your “goals” list, begin by picking just a few that are most important to you. Don’t try to achieve everything on your initial list (it’s not realistic either!). You may want to move some goals to a “futures” list to review after you’ve achieved the most important ones first. I’m not saying procrastinate on those but you can only focus your attention in so many areas. Find your passion and then line up your goals that are most important. From there, take each goal and create a list of steps that you will need to achieve to ultimately reach the goal itself. Using my weight loss example, you might have steps like “Join a gym” or “purchase a treadmill”. From there, it might include “clean out fridge”, “purchase more fruits and veggies”, and “buy a leash so I can take the dog with me on my walks”. Add new steps like “create eating plan”, “purchase notebook for food record’, etc. You get the idea. The key is, each major goal always has mulitple steps and acknowledging these by writing them down gives you smaller steps to celebrate and keep you motivated. Which leads me to the next step…
4. Reward yourself along the way
If you’re like me, you have a list of books, CD’s, tech toys, and other “things” you’d like to have over time. Use these as motivators to get you going. If you’re working on losing weight, reward yourself after the first 10 pounds by buying yourself that CD you’ve put off for a few months. Go online and get that ebook you’ve wanted to read. As you hit a milestone like 25 pounds or whatever might be a midway point, give yourself the gift of a tech toy or perhaps a massage if that’s your thing. An “ebook” for me is $10. That’s not much but I build these in as motivators and my wife doesn’t care if it helps me move along towards a larger goal.
5. Celebrate your accomplishments
As you achieve the goals you outline, take the time to celebrate with those closest to you. I’m in the last few credits of a second degree I’m pursuing at a local college and I already have set and planned my long term goal of starting on a graduate program right after that. I’ve already told my wife that should I reach the goal I’ve set for myself (which I have outlined the entire year’s worth of credits so I have a “plan of attack”), then we will celebrate by taking a much needed vacation since the last few years have been hectic with my studies. The point is, celebrate! Achieving a long range goal is quite an accomplishment and you can do it!
This is a simple plan and you make it as detailed as you like. the point is, you MUST get started if you’re ever to reach a destination. The majority of people you see achieving their goals likely didn’t get there by chance. More often, they followed a plan similar to this and had their destination lined out before they ever began. With the Christmas and New Year’s holiday giving us a bit of time to reflect, now is the perfect time to brainstorm, narrow your focus, and create a plan of attack to achieve more than you ever thought possible. You can do it! Contact me if I can be of help to you in this!